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Welcome to the UPC Optical Remote Sensing Group

The Optical Remote Sensing (ORS) Group belongs to the Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSLab) from the Department of Signal Theory and Communications (TSC) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Barcelona, Spain. This web page describes the activities carried out by the group in the area of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), a synonym of laser radar, which usually finds its core applications in atmospheric remote sensing.


Remote Sensing with lidar (laser radar) offers unprecedented characteristics of environmental, meteorological and spectroscopic (chemical) probing. Thanks to the strong optical interaction between laser light and the intervening atmosphere and to the very good spatial resolutions achieved, on the order of a few meters, as compared to radiofrequency radars, different types of lidars offer key applications such as aerosol pollution monitoring, temperature and humidity sensors,wind-field measurement, and gas-species detectors.




UPC research on lidar started in 1993. Since then, the Optical Remote Sensing (ORS) group has carried out the design, construction and operation of three different lidar systems:

  • First UPC elastic lidar station (1993-1996):

A unique lidar station in Spain by that time consisting of a 0.5-J energy, 532-nm wavelength pulsed backscatter lidar for atmospheric environmental monitoring.

  • 3-D scanning 2+1-channel elastic/Raman lidar (1997-2003):

Since 1997, the group has mainly been involved in the design of a 3-channel transportable instrument, comprising both elastic and Raman sounding capabilities in the near-infrared (NIR) and visible (VIS) bands and exhibiting both analog and photon-counting acquisition modes.

  • 3+3 channel elastic/Raman lidar station (2003-today): 

Since 2003, the group is currently designing 3-D multi-spectral fixed station spanning from the UV to the NIR for aerosol/pollution and water-vapour monitoring. The station is to provide in the mean feature four-dimensional mapping of the time-space atmospheric structure.


Complementary to this instrument-design activity, parallel research onlidar signal processing and inversion algorithms has been paralleled with focus on end-to-end performance simulators, GUI inversion platforms, and inversion error-budget assessment.

The UPC- Barcelona lidar station is part of the European AeRosol LIdar NETwork (EARLINET, 2000-today), which comprises over 25 stations in the EU and, at present, the ORS group is also contributing to steer the Spanish Lidar Network (SPALINET). The UPC 2+1 lidar station is operated on a regular/alert basis since 2000 as well as in different field and quality-assurance intercomparison campaigns at European level.



  • Experimental prototyping of Doppler lidar sensors for atmospheric wind sounding and solid-target speed monitoring.
  • Study of diode-based column-content/range-resolved gas-detection systems and ceilometers.